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Early Childhood Development Centers (ECD’s); an intervention leading to the reduction of Unpaid Care Work (UCW) in Rwanda

Mutegarugori with her daughter at Busasamana ECD

How ECD's are leading to reduction of Unpaid Care Work

Marie Chantal Mutegarugori is a mother of four children. She lives with her husband and four children in Nyanza district. She is a Farmer who grows a variety of vegetables and mushrooms.

Mutegarugori would leave her daughter with the neighbors whenever she had other errands to run. However, she had no peace in her heart leaving her little daughter with the neighbors since they too had a couple of their own children to take care of. She didn’t have a choice though. This made it hard for her to engage in business. She would grow lots of vegetables and mushrooms that she needed to sell but it was hard. She was tasked with taking care of all the other home chores like cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children and doing all the other home chores. Since she had a little girl and it was hard leaving her with the neighbors, the only choice she had was to take care of her kids and other home tasks.

 “It was extremely hard for me to do anything else apart from stay home and take care of my little girl and other home chores. I used to live my daughter with the neighbours who also had a couple of children to take care of. I was always unsettled wondering if they were really taking good care of her and sometimes I would just keep home with her, “she noted.

Mutegarugori adds that life wasn’t easy having to depend on her husband to meet all the family needs, yet she felt like she too would be able to contribute if she could work. Her biggest challenge failing to find a safe space to take her little girl, so she could be able to work too.

Fortunately, ActionAid Rwanda established Busasamana Early Childhood Development Center (ECD) within her neighbourhood. She was excited at the opportunity of having a safe space to take her child to stay all day while she runs her business.

“Since my daughter joined the ECD, I can now comfortably and happily do my farming work and then go sell my mushrooms and other vegetables in the markets. I enjoy working with my hands, so I love working in my garden and seeing my vegetables grow. I am overjoyed that I can now earn money from my own sweat while my daughter is safe and happy at the ECD. I don’t think I would be able to earn some money and meet my needs, if the ECD hadn’t been established,” Mutegarugori narrated.

Mutegarugori hopes every area especially the rural areas have access to ECD’s, noting that it won’t only give their children a good foundation but enable women to engage in paid work.

“I am grateful to ActionAid for this ECD that has changed not only my child’s life but mine too. My child enjoys spending time at the ECD. While at the ECD, she plays with several toys, given nutritious meals, enjoys her nap time and play time with her friends,” she added.

Another parent, Chantal Nirere expressed her gratitude towards the transformation the ECD has brought to her home area; something the parents have greatly benefited from.

Many families depend on farming to sustain their livelihoods. They get up early at dawn and go to their gardens to dig. Many of them go to their gardens with their children, which is quite tiring as watching the kids while they work takes too much attention slowing down the parents’ work in the garden which makes them less productive.

Nirere expounds, “Most of us would go to the garden or to fetch water with children on our backs which was very exhausting. At the end of the day, we wouldn’t be as productive as we should have been. Now we have enough time to do all our chores and spend time with our children when they return from school. We even have time to engage in paid work now.”

Many women in Rwanda are victims of Unpaid Care Work. They mainly stay at home to take care of house chores such as taking care of the children, collecting firewood, fetching water, cooking among other home chores. This halts them from engaging in other productive/paid work which leads to poverty, lack and dependence on men which also at times result into abuse. When they have little children, it gets harder because they must stay at home and take care of the children all day.

ActionAid has supported with the establishment of Early Childhood Development centres (ECD’s) in five districts across Rwanda, to support women to have a safe place to leave their children while they go about to engage in more productive work thus reducing UCW.  ActionAid Rwanda has so far supported with the construction of over 12 ECD’s so far across 5 districts for children between the ages of 3 to 6 years.

Many women who have taken their children to the ECD’s are now engaged in paid and productive Income generating activities thus reducing UCW. ActionAid Rwanda has also supported women with rain water harvesting tanks and biogas as time saving interventions that have helped reduce Unpaid Care Work.

 ActionAid Rwanda has intervened in several ways in effort to recognize, reduce and redistribute Unpaid Care Work. These include community sensitization and trainings on UCW, advocacy at national and international level through media platforms and symposiums, increasing clean water access at household and community level and establishment of early childcare centres.


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